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Votes

Getting Out the Vote

While Democrats, Republicans disagree on who to elect, Clifton groups urge voters to visit polls on Nov. 7.

Only a handful of days remain before the election and women on both sides of the political divide are urging friends and neighbors to vote.

From the newly formed Republican Women of Clifton, president Elizabeth Schultz and second vice president Gini Godard said they're hoping to keep Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) and U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) in office.

"I feel George Allen has the right answers to the problems that lay ahead for our country," said Godard. "I have more confidence in him as a leader with his background. I don't feel I could follow Jim Webb."

Schultz said Allen's record in the Senate proves that he deserves to keep his job.

"He's done a good job," Schultz said.

She also feels that Webb's history of comments that paint women in an inferior light should turn other women away from his campaign.

"I can't fathom a woman of voting age in Virginia voting for Webb," Schultz said.

As for questions about comments Allen has made in his current campaign that have been labeled racist, Schultz said everyone makes mistakes but he shouldn't be taken out of office for it.

"George Allen's record proves that he deserves to win," she said.

Both women said they're working hard to promote the Republican candidates, both incumbents trying to keep their positions from political newcomers.

Schultz said the biggest issue for Republican voters isn't the war in Iraq or the political scandals that have emerged recently, but who displays better character and leadership needed to govern the country.

"Something that happens in another state won't be on voters' minds when they go to vote," Schultz said. "I don't think the (Sen. Mark) Foley situation will have a universal impact."

Overall, Schultz said there's no chance of a landslide of Democratic victories to change Congress.

"Without a shadow of a doubt, there will not be a sweeping response to a few issues," she said.

NOT ALL ISSUES are as cut and dried as which Senate candidate to vote for, however.

Godard said she was a model in the past and, as a result, knows some people "in the gay community." As a result, she's had to take a closer look at the so-called Defense of Marriage amendment, which would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"It's a very difficult issue," she said. "I'll have to really think about it, but I think I'll go with the Republican Party line and support the amendment."

On the other side of the fence, the Democratic Women of Clifton are hoping Schultz, Godard and their friends are wrong.

"The biggest issue on voters' minds this year is the war," said Jane Barker, president of the group.

While she admitted that it's difficult to oust incumbents from Congress, Barker said her party is excited about the candidates running for Senate and the House this year.

"If we can turn out the vote in Virginia, there's a real chance of us taking the Senate," Barker said. "We're hopeful and working really hard to get our candidates elected."

Before the election, Barker said her volunteers will be putting up signs, making phone calls and handing out information to friends and neighbors, encouraging them to vote Democratic.

"I think if people look at the issues, they'll see their own values aren't the same as the Republicans," she said. "Our strength is in the issues. We need a change in the administration and in the Congress to improve what's going on here."

Members of the Democratic organization will be handing out sample ballots with their candidates' information as voters go to polling places, said volunteer and member Mary Lee Cerillo.

"I think people are fed up with what's been going on with this administration," she said. "The disappearance of the middle class in America has people ready for a change."

However, Cerillo said there's no way to know what will happen come Nov. 7.

From Allen's "macaca" incident this summer to the unveiling of Webb's statements that women aren't suitable for combat made several decades ago, Cerillo said, different things will persuade people to vote differently.

"I really think this will have an impact" on the outcome of the election, she said.

She also hopes people are ready to give Democratic newcomer Webb a try, as he doesn't fit the politician mold.

"He's an independent voice and I really think he'll work across the aisle, like (former Gov.) Mark Warner did," Cerillo said.

The one issue both groups agreed on was the importance of getting out and voting, even in what is considered an off election year.

"Voter apathy is the biggest challenge we have to overcome," Schultz said. "Voting is the only way to change what you don't like."